Pie Crawl! Coopers’ Pie n’ Pale Challenge

12 Oct
October 12, 2011

First of all, those closest to me will probably faint at the above photo. For those that don’t know me intimately, I don’t drink beer.  I didn’t start to enjoy coffee until I was in my mid 20s, so there is hope for me yet.  Over the years I keep trying but it isn’t my cup of tea.  I have been known to drink beer, once taking a swig from my Dad’s draught in Japan when I was hot and thirsty and other times I am not going to mention here, let’s just say I hope those that witnessed the events were too drunk to remember.

So why am I holding a cold glass of Coopers Pale Ale?  Oh and by the way I did more than hold, I had a few sips as well.  I was drawn by the pie that accompanied this pale amber liquid.

During Crave Sydney International Food Festival, Coopers Brewery is holding the Coopers Pie n’ Pale Challenge.  Various establishments around Sydney are putting their best gourmet pie forward via a $20 pie n’ pale special.  Could you get any more Australian than a pie and beer for lunch or dinner?

Beside chowing down on a great meal deal during the month of October you can also be part of the action by voting on your favourite pie for the People’s Choice Award via an iPhone Ap.

When I think of pubs, I instantly think of pub crawl.  They were popular when I was young and stupid many many moons ago.  Now I am older and more mature, I thought what about a pie crawl?  Who better to join me trying various pies around town than the one and only  Josh Vs Food, the resident stomach at Belly Rumbles.  Bonus Josh also drinks beer so was able to enjoy some of Coopers on offer.

With iPhone Ap downloaded, our first stop on our pie crawl was the Pyrmont Point Hotel.  As soon as I saw they had a Nepalese Billygoat pie as their offering, I knew I wanted to try it.

The pie is what I class as a pot pie and served with saffron rice and tomato relish.  At first both Josh and I were wondering why there was rice on the side, but once we broke away part of the pastry topping it became apparent.  The filling was very liquid, even more so than what I expect a curry to be, a spoon would be needed to eat the soup like mixture.  Once the rice was added you were able to scoop it up with your fork and pieces of the crisp fennel studded pastry shell.  The filling was spicy with whole cloves and cardamom and had a mild heat to it.

The Grand Hotel

Next stop was The Grand Hotel, part of the Merrivale Group.  It is a quaint little pub with lots of rich warm wood, I imagine it would be very popular with city workers for lunch.

The idea of our pie crawl was to share a pie at each establishment, otherwise it would of been just way too much food.  The chef at The Grand was extremely generous and two pies turned up for Josh and I to try.  The pie offering at The Grand is a massive one, definitely a fantastic deal with a beer included.

A beef pie topped with sautéed peas, chunks of bacon and shallots sitting on top a generous serving of mashed potatoes, with mustard and gherkins on the side.  This is what I call a man’s meal.  The beef filling was extremely tender but slightly sweet with carrots.  The pastry was excellent with a lovely  flaky lid,  very enjoyable.

Talking to staff we find out that the pie has been extremely popular with their lunch time crowd, I can see why, such a generous offering.  Sadly Josh and I hardly do it justice by not eating it all, we had one more pie to try.

Arthouse Hotel Sydney

Waddling away from The Grand we head to our third and last destination on our pie crawl, the Arthouse Hotel Sydney.  I am no stranger to the Arthouse, have dropped in for a drink many times, but I have never actually eaten there.  The pie n’ pale deal is available in the main bar area but Josh and I find ourselves in The Dome restaurant upstairs for our pie tasting.   

It felt a little strange sitting in The Dome’s fine dining establishment to have a pie, but here we were with the white linen and silverware.  Actually I will be heading back to The Dome to try out their regular menu, quite taken by the ambience of the establishment and their extremely helpful happy staff.  Plus I was very impressed with their pie.

The Arthouse offering is a Northern Territory Buffalo pie.  Josh and I were both in agreement, the best pie of the day. The filling of big tender buffalo chunks, carrot, potato and mushroom was delicious.  The pastry is amazing, when talking to the Chef I find out that it is made with crème fraiche, the pastry is so light, flaky and tasty.  The pie is served on large crisp fluffy chips with a light gravy.  The Arthouse got our vote as our favourite pie.

There are 25 establishments involved in the Pie n’ Pale Challenge.  There are a couple of other pies that caught my attention, Paddington Inn’s “rabbit pie with celeriac puree and gooseberry jam” as well as the Welcome Hotel Rozelle’s “the drunken piglet”.

To find out more details have a look at the Coopers site and download the iPhone Ap.  The Ap has all the information about the pubs are offering and where you can find them, it also allows you to vote for your favourite.  One word of warning, some of the pies have been matched to the wrong hotel in the Ap and advertising.  If you are going to an establishment for a particular pie I suggest you ring ahead to confirm their offering.  The Grand Hotel is listed as having a chicken pie which is not the case.  I also found the Ap to be a little buggy but made voting easy.

Your vote will go towards the overall judging which will include votes by Colin Fassnidge (Head Chef, Four in Hand), Mikey Robbins (comedian), Joanna Savill (Editor, Sydney Food Guide) and Glenn Cooper (Cooper’s Executive Chairman). Beside voting to have your favourite pie come out in front you will go in to the draw to win a luxurious harbour cruise for yourself and three friends.

So do tell my dear Belly Rumbles reader, what would be your ultimate pie filling?

STOP THE PRESS:  Happy to announce that the eventual winner of the pie comp was Belly Rumble’s favourite pie, the Northern Territory Buffalo pie from The Arthouse.  Congratulations guys!!!

Sara xxx

Sara & Josh went on their pie crawl with many thanks to Katie from Frank PR, Pyrmont Point Hotel, The Grand Hotel and Arthouse Hotel Sydney.

Dome at the Arthouse Hotel on Urbanspoon

30 Knots at The Grand Hotel on Urbanspoon

Pyrmont Point Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Passionfruit Curd Tart Brûlée

07 Oct
October 7, 2011

Seems like forever since I have shared a recipe with you guys.  I seem to have been eating out more than in of late, and with Crave upon us this will be another month of eating out around old Sydney town.

I do love a simple recipe, I think most of us do with our busy lives, and I specially love an easy recipe that is a little indulgent.  Passionfruit seems to be cheap and in abundance at the moment, and I have been buying trays of the stuff.

I made this tart for the boys a few weeks ago, and they devoured it.  There were even fights over the last piece.  Actually the fighting was from me, as when I went to the fridge I discovered it all basically gone.  I shouldn’t complain, I like to see my food eaten and enjoyed, but sometimes I too like to enjoy the fruits of my labour.  Will tell you guys one day about my home made cookie ninja tactics in order that I actually get to enjoy them before they are all scoffed. Read more →

Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness

06 Oct
October 6, 2011

 The Crave Sydney International Food Festival started off with a bang last Saturday, there was BBQ Madness happening all over Sydney.  All sorts of themed BBQs Greek, Turkish, Argentinean even sausage sensations.  I was still salivating for Malaysian delights after Josh and my master class with Wanitha the previous weekend, so there was only one place I was heading, Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness at Parramatta.

It was rather quiet when we first turned up at 9am to witness the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon and opening of the event.  An area had been set up outside Parramatta Town Hall which was lushly decorated with green hedges, cumquat trees and fake grass.  A mass of wooden tables set up with more greenery and long wooden benches.   This was the calm before the storm, in a few hours it would be long lines and standing room only.

In conjunction with the BBQ, Malaysia Kitchen had organised a day of cooking demonstrations in a small amphitheatre just across from the town hall.  What a perfect way to whet your appetite for lunch? 

Wanith with Lord Mayor Lorraine Warner

Sotong Bakar (BBQ calamari) sample

First up was Wanitha.  It was really lovely catching up with the love goddess again and I was asked if I would like to give her hand cooking on stage when she started.  Of course I would (gulp!)  I ended up prepping and Lorraine Warner, Lord Mayor of Parramatta, became the BBQ calamari Queen.  Wanitha showed the crowd how to make, Sotong Bakar (BBQ calamari) with Ayam and Panggang (grilled chicken).

Tofu Salad (rojak) sample

Otak Otak (spicy fish mouse) sample

Next to take the stage was the full of life, bubby and animated Florence Tan.  Florence is a celebrity chef from Kuala Lumpur and was flown out specially for the occasion.  You couldn’t help but have a big grin on your face watching her prepare Otak Otak (Spicy Fish Mouse) and Grilled Tofu Salad (Rojak), her arms flaying arms and facial expressions larger than life was like watching the energizer bunny.

The demonstrations and the amazing smells which filled Church St Mall had left us feeling quite hungry.  With some fellow bloggers Josh and I made our way back over to where the food was happening.  Lunch time crowds had hit and it was packed.  With table and seating eventually secured we took it in turns to go grab food and mind our precious spots.  Lines were a little lengthy for some dishes and very lengthy for others, but the wait was worth it.Lobak (Malaysian pork spring roll) from Penang Cuisine

Roti Canai with Curry Chicken from Penang Cuisine

Chicken Satay from Albee’s Kitchen Malaysian Delights

Chicken Laksa from Oriental Tucker Box

Beef Rendang from Kampong Boy

Char Kway Teow from Jackie M

Otak Otak from Temasek

After chowing down it was back to the amphitheatre for more cooking demonstrations.  Adam Liaw, winner of MasterChef 2010, prepared Char Kway Teow (fried noodles).  Adam prepared these on the BBQ, this was a first time experience for Adam, I think the rest of the audience as well, but it worked.  Adam then demonstrated and shared tricks of preparing the perfect Satay Chicken.

Last celebrity chef of the day was Alvin Quah.  Oh Alvin just makes me smile, he is so adorable.  Ikan Bakar (grilled BBQ fish in banana leaf) and Tamarind Fried Prawns were Alvin’s dishes of choice to share with the audience.

It was also nice to catch up with Billy Law, fellow food blogger and MasterChef contestant 2011, who came down to say hi to everyone.  What I didn’t even think about is that he is actually a known identity now, and every five seconds it seemed a fan was asking to have their picture taken with him or something signed.  Billy being Billy was more than happy to pose for happy snaps.  Being the silly bloggers that we are we decided to get in the act, which seemed to crate even more Billy mania.  Karen from Citrus & Candy even had one of her fans spot her and approach her for a photo, much to Karen’s amusement.  It was all giggly fun to end the day.

If you missed out on Malaysia Kitchen’s BBQ Madness last weekend, don’t panic there is more Malaysian food fun happening again this weekend.

Malaysia Festival:  Sunday 9th October, Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour.

Malaysia Kitchen will have an array of Malaysian dishes on offer from more than 15 Sydney restaurants, indulge yourself in authentic Malaysian food and live entertainment.  Meet MasterChef contestants and Malaysia Kitchen ambassadors, Alvin Quah and Billy Law.  Also a chance to win a  return airfare to Kuala Lumpur amongst many other great prizes.

Sara xxx

Sara & Josh were guests and invited to BBQ Madness by 360 Digital Influence Sydney and Malaysia Kitchen with much thanks.

Flavours of Malaysia Festival & Master Class with Wanitha

29 Sep
September 29, 2011

I love Malaysian food.  I mean, what is there not to love?  Simple, honest food with spice.  Lucky for us Sydneysiders there are quite a few Malaysian foodie events happening over the next couple of weeks.

The Grace Hotel in Sydney is currently holding a Flavours of Malaysia Festival where award winning Malaysian chefs have been flown in to share the exotic flavours of Malaysia.  An amazing buffet of Malaysian delights awaits those wishing to head to the Grace for lunch or dinner.  They are also holding Malaysian Cooking  Master Classes with Wanitha Tanasigam.  It is this reason Josh and I find ourselves at the Grace on a rainy old Sunday in Sydney.  Read more →

R U OK? Some days I am & some days I’m not

15 Sep
September 15, 2011

When I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be writing this post, actually I am a little apprehensive about it.  Talk about bearing one of your inner most darkest secrets.

If you weren’t aware today is R U OK day.   A great concept, it starts conversation about depression.  Social media has been overrun today with people shouting out R U OK?  It is raising awareness and people are talking about depression.  This is fantastic in my eyes as 15 years ago nobody talked about it.  It was taboo, shoved under the carpet and most definitely not understood by the majority.

Depression has been a very close friend of mine, from about the age of 13.  So you could say we have been best buddies for about 30 years now.  I think most people that have a close and personal relationship with depression will agree with me, only those that have been there truly understand what you go through on a daily basis.  Yes those closest to you, that are passengers on your journey can relate, but they never truly understand.

So for me there is one little flaw in R U OK day.  If you were to turn around right now and ask a person who suffers depression if they were okay, I can guarantee you the response will most probably be “I’m fine”.

This morning I noticed a few shout outs on Facebook, letting friends know that if they weren’t okay to give them a ring etc.  Sorry to say this guys, but it doesn’t work like that, somebody that may be having a dark day is not going to give you a call and have a chat about it.  For most it isn’t that easy to talk about, you have to be in the right frame of mind to do so.  So when that friend is ready to talk, please be there to listen.

I know myself it took me many years to seek help.  My push to go and do something about my depression 16 years ago was my beautiful then three year old son.  He needed his mother around, alive and functional, Josh was my trigger for seeking help.  I sought help, my family and Macs’ family supported me 100% and were there for me in any capacity that could help me.  When I reached out to friends it was a bit of a different situation and I didn’t find the support I needed there.

From that experience until now I don’t talk about my depression with people outside of my family.  Actually I don’t really talk about it, I just deal with it on a day to day basis.  Even when I am having a terrible week I rarely reach out to Mac or my closest confident Ms Lily and say, “I am having a bad week”, I should.  I think the reason for this is I want to pretend I am fine, give the image I am a confident strong business woman/mother/friend.

I know that most of you that know me personally would have had no idea of my depression.  Well, I have put it out there now and basically the world knows.  I thought today was a good day to share with you guys.  Most of you know me as bright and bubbly with a smile on my face, you wouldn’t have had a clue.  I think this alone is a very important point,  you never know who is a sufferer.

I haven’t really gone in to how depression affects me, I didn’t want to go in to too much detail.  To be honest this has been interesting to write, a little hard, a little emotional, but I wanted to share that depression is more common than thought and it affects all sorts of people from all walks of life.

My advice, parents, know your children, talk to them, spend quality time with them even if they want to retreat to their bedrooms, watch for any signs.  They will most probably not come forward, they probably don’t even understand what they are feeling themselves.  For partners and friends, arm yourself with information, take the time to talk, understand, support and basically just be there.

For more information on R U OK day and to make a donation www.ruokday.com.au

Another fantastic annual awareness event is the Black Dog Ride www.blackdogride.com.au or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/BlackDogRide

If you need help or want more information about depression Beyond Blue is a long running supportive organisation www.beyondblue.org.au

Promise next post we will be back to the subject of food.

Sara xxx

 

 

 

 

 

High tea with Stephen Twining a new Aussie blend

13 Sep
September 13, 2011

Exciting news, Australia finally has its own tea blend, Australian Afternoon Tea,  thanks to Twinings.

Earlier this year Twinings set a challenge for 40 Australian celebrities to create their own perfect Australian Afternoon Tea blend.  Blending packs were sent out and our Aussie celebrities blended away.  The final results were sent over to London for assessment by a Twinings expert panel.

The top five celebrity blenders were; Radio Broadcaster Alan Jones, TV Personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley and her husband John, Singer John Williamson, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Champion Surfer Layne Beachley.  It was then up to the public to vote for the winning blend, around 85,000 Australians ended up voting.

Stephen Twining

A high tea at the Observatory Hotel was the perfect setting to announce the winning blend, and Stephen Twining, 10th generation Twining Ambassador was in Australia to make that announcement.  It was for this reason I found myself sitting down for a friendly tête â tête with Stephen over a cup of Russian Caravan before the event.  The drawing room of The Observatory Hotel is absolutely stunning, very much the parlour for having tea. 

Stephen is the perfect example of an immaculately groomed English gentleman, with a manicure that puts my fingernails to shame.  Actually the manicure makes perfect sense, I am sure that every time he picks up a cup of tea people would be focusing on his hands. Read more →

New Mad Mex on George St Sydney & VIP Party

08 Sep
September 8, 2011

The 12th and newest restaurant in the Mad Mex franchise opens today.  A great location on George Street opposite Central Station in Sydney.  It should prove to be very popular with the local backpackers, UTS and Sydney TAFE students.

When I received the invitation a few weeks ago to attend the VIP opening party, it was pretty much a no brainer on us going.  Josh was keen and eager, especially after his victory over the 1Kg Mad Mex burrito challenge a few months ago. Read more →

The Apprentice – Weird Food Dinner

06 Sep
September 6, 2011

I think I generally have a pretty awes­­ome food radar.  I generally have my finger on the pulse and know what is going on around town.

Hmmm, *cough cough*, radar went down……….  Thanks to the Globetrotter, or actually a work colleague of the Globetrotter’s,  I found myself at the Weird Food Dinner held at The Apprentice.  A special dinner held as part of the Ultimo Science Festival.

Not heard of The Apprentice?  Firstly, no, you haven’t missed an important piece of foodie news.  Donald Trump has not started up a restaurant in Sydney manned by those that were fired from his TV shows.  The Apprentice is a licensed training restaurant for people studying Commercial Cookery and the Food and Beverage Certificates at Sydney Institute (TAFE). Read more →

Quay – Harbour Bridge, Opera House & Snow Eggs

30 Aug
August 30, 2011

Birthdays, aren’t they wonderful things?  An excuse to go out and eat, and if it is your birthday you get to pick.  There are only two days that separate Josh’s and my birthdays.  For the past 18 years my birthday has generally been consumed with kids parties etc, as he had the big celebratory 18th last year.  This year I had a plan, and my foodie son willingly agreed.  An adult family lunch at Quay to celebrate both our birthdays.

The last time I visited Quay would have been 20 – 25 years ago.  Not even sure if it was called Quay back then, but I do know that renowned Chef Peter Gilmore wasn’t behind the pass.  The food was good back then, but not the standard it is today.

The present day Quay ranks number 26 on the S Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant’s list, and is the highest ranked Australian restaurant in the world.  Peter has been behind the helm as Executive Chef since August 2001.  It’s located in prime position overlooking two of Sydney’s icons, The Sydney Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Read more →

The Snag Stand “haute dogs” gimme your sausage!

26 Aug
August 26, 2011

Westfield Level 5 food court really has a massive foodie hype about it.  Not working in the city, I must admit, I have not spent a great deal of time there.  So when occasion has called for me to venture in to the big smoke to do some shopping I have started to stick my head in and see what’s what.

I was doing a pre Japan shop to purchase some goodies to take over as presents and hunger struck.  The Snag Stand was on my foodie radar and the perfect reason to venture to level 5.

Decisions decisions, what to have?  Their range is quite extensive.  Who would of thought that choosing a sausage on a bun would be so difficult.  Would I have the Wagyu beef with butter & garlic mash, herbed gravy topped with sautéed onions ($10.90)?  Maybe pork & fennel Italian, freshly grilled with sautéed tri colour capsicum, sautéed onions & balsamic glaze on a toasted brioche roll ($9.90)?  The Backyarder sounded interesting, a classic Aussie beef & tomato sausage on a rustic roll with creamy coleslaw, Coopers Ale BBQ sauce & cheddar cheese ($8.90)? Or the chicken & rocket, which sounded on the healthier side, served on a soft poppy seed roll with rocket pesto aioli, fresh tomatoes & shaved parmesan ($9.90)? Read more →

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